Make a measurement maths trail

Purpose

In this unit students pose measurement questions, make estimates and carry out practical measuring tasks using appropriate metric units.They first complete a trail devised by the teacher and then devise and complete a maths trail of their own.

Specific Learning Outcomes
  • Carry out practical measuring tasks using appropriate metric units.
  • Make measurement estimates using appropriate metric units.
  • Pose measurement questions.
Description of Mathematics

The maths trail can be made to accommodate any level of measurement expertise and any range of measurement topics.  To make a maths trail (which can be inside the classroom or school buildings or outside, or a combination of both), the steps are:

  1. Select 4 to 10 ‘stations’ to form a route round the ‘trail’.  At each station students will have one or more questions to answer on a worksheet.
  2. Make up questions for each station or site, which can ONLY be answered at that site.
  3. Either have the questions fixed at each station, OR have all questions included on the worksheet with space for answers.
  4. Print copies for each group.

Comments on questions

  1. Use the questions to practice or consolidate aspects of Measurement appropriate to the class
  2. Make sure the questions could only be answered while at the Station.
  3. Use a variety of types of question: closed and open; exact measurements and estimations; one-word answers and questions needing explanations; cover a range of types of measurement
  4. Make sure questions do not need elaborate equipment; for example each group could take only pencil, worksheet, a tape measure or ruler, and a calculator.
  5. Make sure you have all the answers!
  6. Make sure questions do not refer to objects which might be removed from the station.
  7. Write a clear description of the site of each station on the worksheet, and preferably have signs (Station 1) fixed at each site.
  8. The Maths Trail should be easy to complete within one lesson.

Suggestions for Measurement Questions (Of course, questions do not need to be all measurement)

  • Stand at the station.  Write your estimate of the distance in metres to the edge of the grass.  Now measure and record your measurement.  How good was your estimate?
  • Estimate the height of the tree to your left.  Explain your estimation strategy.
  • Draw and name an object about ten metres from the station.
  • How high is each brick in the wall on your right? Use this to calculate the height of the wall.
  • Estimate the capacity in litres of the (bin) by the door.  Explain your strategy.
  • Calculate the area of the door/window.
  • Name an object you can see which is about one cubic metre in volume.
  • How long in seconds do you think it will take you to walk from the Station to the tree and back?  Write your estimate, then each member of the group in turn walk while other members time the walk.
  • Measure and record the diameter and circumference of the circular window/ flower tub.  Write what you decide from your measurements.
  • Estimate the area of the (irregular) flowerbed.  Explain your estimation strategy.
  • Estimate the weight of the flower tub.
Required Resource Materials
  • Worksheets
  • Markers for Stations
  • Rulers or tape measures
  • Calculators
Activity

Session 1

(Mark out the maths trail in advance)

  1. Explain how a maths trail works.
  2. Arrange groups of 2 – 4 students.
  3. Assign groups a station to start from to avoid congestion. Check that all groups have (only) the agreed materials and the worksheet.
  4. Set a time limit for completion of the Maths Trail.
  5. Students move round the stations in sequence, completing the worksheets as they go.

Session 2

  1. Discussion of maths trail.
  2. As a class discuss each question in turn.  Compare answers and solution strategies.
    Which questions were most difficult?
    Which questions were most interesting?
    Were any questions too easy?
  3. Note skills and knowledge that need consolidating and revise these with the class.

Session 3

Planning a class maths trail.
  1. Explain that the class in groups is going to plan and prepare a new maths trail.
  2. Brainstorm with the class types of questions that could be asked about length, area, capacity, mass, volume, and time.
  3. Stress that questions must only be able to be answered using data at the site.
  4. To practice question setting, assign each group to a part of the classroom and have them devise and write two appropriate questions, together with answers.
  5. Assign two different types of measurement (length, area…) to each group.  Each group could be asked to produce one open and one closed question.
  6. Come together to discuss the questions, especially drawing out strengths and weaknesses. 
  7. It is important that groups realise that making a good question is not a simple or quick exercise.  Encourage interesting and varied questions.

Session 4

  1. Assign stations, types of measurement and types of questions to each group.
  2. As each group prepares questions, discuss them and suggest where changes are needed.
  3. Groups write up (or word process) their questions (each on half an A4 sheet) including space for answers, and provide their answers on a different piece of paper.
  4. The questions then need putting together and copying for the next session.

Session 5

Groups complete the maths trail as in Session 1, then come together to discuss answers and strategies and to comment on the idea of a maths trail.

Extension

Some students may wish to make a new maths trail for a younger class to complete, which may include number and space.